Thursday, January 26, 2012

about my artwork.

Today, I am honored to be guest posting over at Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope for their January create. heal inspire. series on creativity and grief. January is International Creativity Month. I am also giving away a mizuko jizo painting over there. So go over there. Comment. Win something. Actually, check out the whole series, because it is beautifully done, like everything at FOL/FOH. Beryl has done an amazing job organizing this month of creative mamas.


Now, a few words about my art in general. A few weeks ago, I mentioned closing my Etsy Shop so I can focus on my writing. I said it in this general, oh-maybe-soon-I-will way. In lieu of a few requests and comments from people, I thought I would take a few weeks before closing shop to offer custom work to grieving people as well as sell the work I have around the studio. I will be open to do custom mizuko jizo paintings for the next two weeks. I am aiming to be done around Valentine's Day, but will stay open longer if I get a ton of requests. I am putting aside writing to offer this to the grieving parents that I love, because I noticed a few parents favorited my shop on Etsy and the custom listing, and I didn't want you to be surprised if you went back and the gypsy caravan has packed up and the carnival left town.

Mizuko jizos hanging across my studio
for Intl Kindness Project Day
I have explained what mizuko jizos are on this blog before, and tonglen meditation. My painting process is part of my spiritual practice, as many of you know. Tonglen mediation is a meditation where you connect with suffering--your own suffering and the suffering of others. You breathe in the suffering, and breath out relief, happiness, joy, compassion to the suffering. The idea is to carry the burden, lessen others suffering. It is slightly oppressive and uncomfortable to carry suffering, to feel pain of others' situations and grief, but also very healing. In the end, it helps you become comfortable around suffering and dissipate the fear of your own suffering. Because I lost a child, I tap into the early grief energy, the rawness of it, and touch that. When I do custom work, I focus on that individual family, or mother/father, and send a kind of grounding to the family. I also keep that child's name as a mantra in my mind, as well as Lucy's name. Then I paint, in a quiet studio, alone, with a candle for the babies and incense. When I do a large, general painting session, I meditate for grieving parents as a general group. And paint many paintings at the same time.

Greeting cards after a tonglen session..
I have been doing this type of meditation painting for three years now. Well, almost three years. After Lucia's death. Everything converged for me in the late spring after her death when I began painting mizuko jizo for my own Lucia's mizuko kuyo, or ritual for remembrance. Around the same time, I saw my Buddhist therapist who was helping me relearn meditation after her death. I was having trouble sitting still, and he gave me some amazing meditation techniques. It was during one of our meditation sessions that he taught me tonglen, and said that my connecting with other women on-line sounded like tonglen. I had never heard of it, and was intrigued. Helping others always helped me cope with suffering. I bought Pema Chodron's Good Medicine which is an explanation of tonglen.(Here is a quick article that explains it quite nicely.) In another session, the same therapist suggested that I think of painting as my daily meditation. He said that it is a strong legacy in Buddhist tradition to have artists who use painting as a type of working meditation.

My paintings have been integral to my daily life, just as meditation has been. To let it go feels scary and important. For me, the daily Etsy demand is very low. But when it comes, it requires me to drop my current deadlines and work, then focus on painting. Particularly because the payment is up front, so I feel I must meet the two day turnaround I promise. And yet, I have to say, painting for grieving parents and grandparents has opened up a new, beautiful, spiritual world to me, and gave me a spiritual grounding and center that felt like the missing link in my life for a long long time before Lucia's death. I am forever indebted to the parents who trust me with their babies, and allow me to paint for them.

Painting, before my studio.
With bangs and pregnant with Thor.
Fall, 2009.

AND so, for the next two to three weeks, I will focus on painting, as I close this chapter, FOR NOW. I know I will continue painting, and I may paint again on Etsy after that, but I just want to set it aside for now. So, I have some paintings (4"x6" watercolors, and 5"x7" watercolor greeting cards, perfect for babylost friends for birthdays, sympathy cards or anytime cards) in my studio that I am selling for $15 a piece. Custom pieces are priced differently, and we can discuss prices. If you are interested in a custom piece, or a meditating mama, or another painting, please do not hesitate to contact me at uberangie(at)gmail(dot)com. We can work on something together for you. I also will be selling my acrylic pieces that appeared in the show five. in Lancaster, PA, this month.

From five.

I have decided that on July 27th, as part of MISS Foundation's International Kindness Project, I will do a large meditation session and paint 4"x 6" mizuko jizos to give away to grieving families. Last year, I painted 28 jizos for grieving families. I offer that through the comment section of this blog, the comment section at MISS Foundation, and on my Facebook page. (Angie Kenna Yingst.) That won't happen until July, though.

Thank you all for the support and love you have given to my painting and work. It has meant the world.


  1. I hadn't read your Mizuyo Jizo post (sp?) before, I love your description of how you connect with them. I know while I was at school after my miscarriages, I repeatedly etched dandelion seeds in different ways, and they sound like a similar process - in that space I connected with what wasn't, and what was. I think having a framework on it is helpful and validating - didn't really know the whats or whys at the time.
    I think its amazing what you do with your paintings for people

  2. Great post! keep posting & awaking people like me about Meditation for kids.


What do you think?